Day 5: Local Government

In my previous post I looked at several different Irish quangos, This is the fifth day of mapping the state. If you'd like to view day 1 in which I analyse the formal framework of the Irish government it can be seen here, If you'd like to view my overview and analysis of the Oireachtas and the Judiciary you can view day 2 hereif you'd like to read about the state departments and local government you can view day 3 here and if you want to read about Irish quangos you can view day 4 here.
untitledHow does somebody get nominated to local government?

How is someone nominated for a local government position?

There are two main prerequisites for a person to be nominated to local government, they are:

  1. They have to be ordinarily resident in Ireland (they do not have to be a citizen)
  2. They have to be over the age of 18

There are also several disqualifying factors or issues that prevent someone from being nominated to local government, a nominee cannot be:

  • A member of the European Commission, Parliament or Courts
  • A Minister of the Government or a Minister of State
  • An Ceann Comhairle (the Chairman of the Dáil) and an Cathaoirleach (the Chairman of the Seanad)
  • Members of an Garda Siochana (Irish police force) or a full-time member of the Irish defence forces
  • Judges
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General
  • Civil servants. Where it does not specifically state in your contract of employment that you may be a member of a local authority
  • A person employed by a local authority and is not the holder of a class, description or grade of employment designated by order under section 161(1)(b) of the Local Government Act 2001
  • A person employed by the Health Service Executive and who is at a grade or of a description of employment designated by order of the Minister for Health
  • People currently imprisoned for a term longer than 6 months
  • People who have failed pay local authority charges
  • People who have failed to comply with an order of a court to pay money due to a local authority
  • People who have been convicted of fraud or dishonest dealings, corrupt practice or acting while disqualified

How do you get elected to local government?

Any Irish resident can be elected to local government provided they gain enough votes in local elections.

How do partisan party politics work at a local level?

Irish partisan politics at the local level is quite different than national partisan politics, the difference is that local politicians like councillors are less focused on the issues that national politics are concerned with and are more interested in representing and protecting the interests of the community that elected them by making the community’s interests known to the local authorities.

 

Where does local government get its income?

There are several sources of revenue available to local authorities, they are:

Goods and services – Local authorities have powers to charge for services which they provide, for example, commercial water charges, housing rents, waste charges, parking charges, planning application fees.

Rates – Rates are levied annually by county, city, borough and certain town councils. Each of these authorities has exclusive rating jurisdiction within its own area. Rates are assessed on the valuation of immoveable property such as buildings, factories, shops, railways, canals, mines, woods, rights of fishery and rights of easement over land. The valuation of such property for rating purposes is carried out by a central government agency, the Valuation Office, with a right of appeal to a Valuation Tribunal.

State grants: State grants are paid to local authorities for specific services/schemes, for example higher education grants and road maintenance grants. These are financed by several government departments.

The Local Government Fund (LGF) is a special central fund which was established in 1999 under the Local Government Act 1998. It is financed by the full proceeds of motor tax and an Exchequer contribution. The Fund provides local authorities with the finance for general discretionary funding of their day-to-day activities and for non-national roads, and funding for certain local government initiatives.

Community fund – An elected council may establish a separate ‘community fund’ to support specific community initiatives such as amenity, recreational, environmental or community development projects of benefit to the local area.

 

What are the strengths and weakness of Irish local government?

The strengths of Irish local government are:

1. it helps to prevent against central domination of government by any one area.

2. It  delivers public services to local communities.

The weaknesses of local government are:

1 Excessive localism can arise from local politics/government, this is where a preference for the local community takes precedence over a more pressing, overarching national issue that may affect far more people.

2. A reliance on national funding. The local authorities may become too reliant on subsidies and funding from the national government, because certain local governments know they will receive funding from the national government they don’t have as much of an incentive to minimise cost.

What does local government spend its money on? 

Local government spends its money on local services such as funding parks, youth centres and libraries.

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